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UFC 250 results: New blue bantamweight blood

Last night’s pay-per-view event in Las Vegas saw a clear cut #1 contender emerge at bantamweight, but once again Aljamain Sterling is on the outside looking in.

UFC 250’s main event tonight (Sat., June 6, 2020) between women’s Featherweight champion, Amanda Nunes, and overmatched challenger, Felicia Spencer, turned out to be exactly what it looked like on paper: a farcically one-sided thrashing brought about by the promotion’s insistence on maintaining an obsolete division. Luckily for the viewers, the pay-per-view (PPV) main card’s trio of Bantamweight bouts delivered on every conceivable metric: three fights, three stunning finishes.

In the opener, Sean O’Malley asserted his dominance by burying dangerous veteran Eddie Wineland at the crossroads (watch highlights). In the middle bout, Aljamain Sterling short-circuited what was expected to be a high-octane, back-and-forth eliminator with an 88-second tapout of Cory Sandhagen. In the co-main event, Cody Garbrandt scored his first victory since 2016 with an unbelievable one-punch knockout of the normally iron-tough Raphael Assuncao (details).

UFC’s Lightweight division has long been considered its most stacked, but with the exit or obvious decline of mainstays like Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez and Donald Cerrone, the 135 pounders have an extremely strong claim to the top spot. Not only is the Bantamweight division filled with exciting, top-notch contenders, it’s practically bursting with talented up-and-comers that look fit to carry it for years to come. UFC 250 showcased both, establishing the division as must-see TV.

Sadly, the excitement is tempered by frankly bizarre mismanagement, and I don’t just mean cutting the sport’s most entertaining fighter in John Lineker. After putting together a genuinely excellent match up between Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes, UFC let the belt languish for 11 months despite a worsening logjam of contenders. Petr Yan — the division’s heir apparent — was left to re-retire Urijah Faber while Sterling, Sandhagen, Assuncao, and Pedro Munhoz cannibalized each other. When they finally did manage to force “CCC” back into the cage, they decided to pit him against Jose Aldo, who was riding a two-fight losing streak and had been violently knocked out in his previous three title fights.

Even if one were to argue that Aldo deserved the win in his narrow split decision loss to Moraes, that still left him on a one-fight winning streak. Yan has won nine straight and Sandhagen rode a seven-fight streak into the Sterling fight. I will forever defend Jose Aldo’s accomplishments, but him getting a Bantamweight title shot is as undeserved as Urijah Faber’s cavalcade of failed championship bids.

“Junior” would ultimately withdraw, giving UFC a second chance to book a proper title fight. Instead, they brought in Dominick Cruz, winless since 2016. Now that Cejudo is apparently hanging up the gloves after finishing “The Dominator,” it’s trying to pit Aldo against Yan for the vacant belt.

It would be unforgivable to keep pursuing that matchup after Sterling’s performance tonight. While the idea of UFC being a meritocracy is deep in the throes of rigor mortis at this point, the concept strains even the last lingering scraps of credibility. The UFC has managed to put together a frankly unreasonably stacked lineup. and to let it stagnate would be the height of incompetence. Hopefully, UFC 250 reminded the brass just what sort of goldmine they’re sitting on.

For complete UFC 250 results and round-by-round coverage click here.

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